Diecast – Twenty Sided

Videogames, programming, and videogames.



Diecast #351: Before We Mailbag

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Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

00:00 Google Olympics Game

You can find the game here.

03:57 What happened to Bob Case?
Sadly, I am not able to cause Bab Case to appear. He stepped away from his writing project here and that was the last I heard from him. It’s a little awkward to approach him because I don’t want to come off like, “Hey, when are you going to get back to making content for my blog for free?”

06:12 Before We Leave

Link (YouTube)

15:16 Mailbag: Story Coalescence


So I was rereading you blog entries about story collapse and trust in the storyteller, because it’s something that I was thinking about (and compare it to the intro to Mess Effect).

You described the logical process of losing this trust until it would lead to inevitable Story Collapse. And I remembered, that I actually had an opposite experience. After ten years of not watching anime I decided to watch one series, for whatever reason. I was prepared to just watch and forget it, as a dumb action schlock, that it probably is. And yeah, initial episodes didn’t really wow me. But during the season, I started to notice quite a masterful world building and that characters have more depth than they are showing (and some other things). And now I have so much trust to the storyteller I can feel that the ending (whenever it will came) must be good (a feeling I never had before). I’m not sure how to call it. Story Ascension?

My question is. Did either of you ever experienced anything similar to this in any media?

Best regards, DeadlyDark

20:07 Mailbag: Eu on Piracy

So, I found this rather old study done in the EU on piracy and I’m curious if you saw it at any point: https://www.engadget.com/2017-09-22-eu-suppressed-study-piracy-no-sales-impact.html

Even the article is fairly old. It’s pretty interesting to me that apparently there’s no real value in defending against pirates unless you’re making blockbuster movies or certain AAA games, maybe.

Jennifer Snow

Don’t forget about second breakfast:

Dear Diecast,

I came across this article today, and thought it could be interesting, esepcially when it comes to discussing DRM and such:


The TL;DR is: The EU did a study on the effect of piracy on sales of games, music, and movies, and found “‘no robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online piracy.’ In the case of games, it concluded that unauthorized playing might actually make it more likely users will buy them.”. And then they tried to hide those results :D

Just wanted to share this as I thought it could be interesting for you and Paul to discuss on the show.


I realize this seems sort of paranoid and cynical, but I just don’t trust “studies” the way I used to. Not even when they agree with my preconceived notions. I find them less persuasive than I used to, and (more importantly) I find them less useful as a tool for persuading others.

When I hear the term “study” now I think, “Ah, someone paid some money to collect data that supports their worldview or advances their agenda.” This report was from the EU and was supposedly “buried”, but I don’t know who originally conducted it, who buried it, or why. If I was younger and angrier I might spend a bunch of time going over the report and asking questions, but I just don’t see the point.

And to be clear, I’m talking about studies relating to videogames. Stuff like the effect of violence on children, the impact of pricing on sales, the suitability of videogames as an educational tool, and so on. I’m not saying ALL scientific studies in all domains are agenda-driven hogwash. I’m just saying that in the world of videogaming, we’ve seen more than our share of hogwash.

From my point of view, the uselessness of DRM was proven years ago. The publishers have long since been checkmated, but they refuse to concede or to even look at the goddamn board. If none of the previous arguments persuaded them, then what’s one more study going to do? This is just more data that they’re going to ignore and call us all thieves before sweeping the pieces off the board and storming off to write a press release about how they totally won.

Moreover, both Blizzard and Ubisoft have been rocked by scandals showing that their companies are toxic, miserable, and profoundly dysfunctional. Worrying about their lame-ass DRM policies is like criticizing Harvey Weinstein for being a bad tipper.

Like, who cares what these idiots think about DRM at this point? Burn the whole thing down.

24:35 Mailbag: Studios that died before their time.

Greetings, dear Diecast,

I was thinking about which games I am really fond of, and noticed that between Tomba (made by WhoopeeCamp), Revenant (made by Cinematix), and Arcanum (made by Troika), I have quite a few there made by studios that died before their time.

Are there particular game studios that you like that went too soon? I know 13 Window likes Looking Glass, but what about Ober Detlef?



35:05 Mailbag: Forgotten Game Mechanics

Dear Diecast,

So you were talking about the crazy ideas and experimenting going on in the late 90’s/early 00’s last week.

Molyneux did something in Black & White that I haven’t personally encountered anywhere else. To cut down on UI clutter, he used mouse “gesture recognition” to trigger spellcasting. I remember it as basically tracing a pattern on the ground (e.g. a spiral for a fireball) a few times for practice, then it was up to you to make it work going forward. Has this idea cropped up anywhere else? Most commentary on the game barely acknowledges it. So I’m left wondering, was it received positively, negatively, or just swept away in the passage of time?

Another game from slightly earlier was the Wheel of Time PC game, a first person shooter (of all things) using an Unreal build from somewhere between the original Unreal and UT. In an attempt to bring the flavor of the fantasy setting’s magic system to an FPS, you ended up with 40 different offensive and defensive widgets to use spread across the number keys (I’ve attached a picture of the poster that came in the box, back when we weren’t just buying bits). A substantial number of these widgets fired player-seeking projectiles that used the same pathfinding as the AI bots. The bandwidth of the day meant in a deathmatch with players firing off dozens of such weapons at each other, pings in the 400-700 range were the norm. It was bedlam, bonkers, and fun, but it didn’t sell very well. The sheer number of abilities and the rapid-fire stabbing on the number keys gave it a steep learning curve.

I bring these two games up because the crazy idea I’ve had rattling around in my head for years is how a blend of the two would work. Weaving elemental threads via mouse gestures to achieve a wide variety of spell effects (possibly even procedurally) based on the elements used, the gestures for each element, and the type of target. I bounced the idea around some boards almost 20-years ago, but we quickly came to the conclusion the infrastructure/hardware wasn’t ready and the mouse gesturing was just too unwieldy for anything fast-paced.

But now we have relatively stable twin-stick VR, allowing for accurate two-handed gesture tracking. Care to poke holes in my idea?

Are there any other strange mechanics you’ve encountered over the years that you wish had stuck around (or alternatively, overstayed their welcome)?



46:51 Mailbag: Memorable Settings

Dear Diecast,

recently I was looking through my console game collection and reminiscing about the stories and worlds I experienced.

In particular, I love the setting of Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu*, which takes place in a far eastern land where people can travel to magical forests covered in ancient ruins.

So I was wondering, what are some unique and memorable settings you have enjoyed?



51:09 Mailbag: How You Would Do It

Dear Diecast,

have you ever encountered a mechanic in a game that made you think:
“If I made a game, that’s how I’d do it.”?

For example, when I first played Grandia 2 I was impressed by the battle system.
It has a global ATB where you see how far along all characters and enemies are, where attacks can delay their target, or even knock them out of their charge-up to an attack.
On top of that, positioning is worth keeping in mind as different attacks can have different attack radii.
If I were to make a game, that’s how I’d implement the battle system.

Looking forward to hear your thoughts.




 2021-08-02  n/a